WITH 39 FOLIO WOOD-ENGRAVED PLATES BY GUSTAVE DORÉ: COLERIDGE’S RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER, 1877, FIRST DORÉ-ILLUSTRATED EDITION
(DORÉ, Gustave) COLERIDGE, Samuel Taylor. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1877. Large folio (15 by 18-1/2 inches), original pictorial brown cloth gilt, beveled boards, all edges gilt. $4800.
First American edition, scarce second issue published same month as the first, of Doré’s lavishly illustrated edition of Coleridge's classic, a handsome folio volume with 39 striking full-page folio wood-engravings, title page and two large engraved vignettes by Doré, a splendid copy in original gilt-stamped cloth.
"One can hardly deny that Doré is not merely one of the most popular but also one of the greatest of all illustrators… Perhaps Taine summed up Doré's appeal most eloquently: 'every imagination appeared languid in comparison with his. For energy, force, superabundance, originality, sparkle, and gloomy grandeur, I know only one equal to his—that of Tintoretto" (Ray, 327-29). "In December 1875, Doré did a set of engravings that would make Coleridge's poem famous. Few people today realize how much the popularity of that poem owed to the many Doré editions which finally made it come to life" (Malan, 131). "Doré's illustrations… immediately and marvelously invoke the eerie, magical, superstitious world which Coleridge created… Waterspouts, foundering ships, dark looming figures seem to leap from Coleridge's poetic imagination to Doré's wood blocks" (Anthony Burgess). First published in London in 1876, in an even larger format but with poor quality workmanship and an exorbitant price. The London edition was not reprinted, while the Harper edition, esteemed for its "high quality," was very popular. "Harper normally dated major books like this the year following the December in which they were issued" (Malan). This is the second issue of the American edition, published the same month as the first (December, 1876), but with "1877" on the title page, presumably to attract the Christmas trade. Malan, 261.
Plates fine, inner paper hinges expertly reinforced, faint trace of rubbing to bright gilt cloth. A beautiful about-fine copy.